Acroyoga Community Series: Building an Acroyoga Community..a How to.
Updated: Nov 12, 2018
A lot of acro communities take roadtrips together to festivals, conventions and workshops. And we meet for both formal training, like classes, and also informal training, like jams. But if you are wondering what else you can do to help your community grow, thrive, and sustain, then READ ON!
How to Build a Strong Community around Acro... Some Tips.
Lots of newbies want to come play, but are shy, nervous, busy, or just have trouble making that first step to dive into a new community. If you don't already have a facebook group and page, an instagram account, or a website, start one now! And keep it updated with pictures from classes and jams, notices of events, and frequent invitations for new members to come and play. Acro can be SUCH a warm and fabulous group, once you are in. But sometimes joining can be intimidating. Having a welcoming online presence can go far in helping you get found.
Be sure to recruit several people to be administrators and shepherds of the social media pages, so that as individuals get busy, relocate, etc., the pages stay fresh and relevant. It may seem like a chore, but there are usually a few in every group who have fun posting pictures and editting videos, and who can write engaging and welcoming posts, so recruit broadly and give your groups' online presence a personality similar to the physical experience of being at one of your jams.
CREATE A COMMUNITY IDENTITY
Defining a logo for your group is a pretty easy way to create a sense of cohesion. Our local acroyoga community is fortunate enough to have several graphic designers, one of whom designed a logo that we put on shirts. Now when we jam in the park, travel to festivals, or post pictures, we are easily identifiable.
TAKE ACRO OFF THE MAT AND OUT OF THE GYM
Even the exciting acro environment can use a change of scenery once in awhile. If your group usually meets indoors at a gym or studio, try moving outdoors to jam in a park where you can be visible. When weather permits, the acroyoga communities in Montreal and Washington DC meet in parks where drum circles are also jamming. The combined energy of the music and movement lifts everyone.
AcrOhio is one of many groups to host an annual Acro Scavenger Hunt. (We also recently hosted an Acro Scavenger Hunt in Aarhus, Dk - pictures in an upcoming post.) This is a great way to get outdoors, see your own city with fresh eyes, and interact with the wider community in a fun and low-pressure way.
Seeing shows together is a great way to get inspired and inject fresh energy and ideas into the group. Is the circus coming to town? Or a gymnastics or acrobatic exhibition? Organise a group to sit together and maybe cocktails or coffee afterwards to chat about the show.
This is also a chance to include the rest of the family, like partners or kids who don't come to acro, but can still be fun people.
WE KNOW WE ALL LIKE MOVEMENT
Everyone in your acro community likes to move and many have other movement hobbies that you haven't tried, like slack-lining, rock climbing, or dancing. And because acroyoga is often about testing the parameters of the comfort zone, this can be a chance to take on new challenges while being supported by the people you have grown to trust. You'll also get to know your acro friends in a while new way. Who is scared of heights? Who is awesome at puzzles? Some ideas to research in your area...
Obstacle course racing, like the Nordic Race.
Climbing and Bouldering - pulling can be a rewarding and/or humbling cross-training to all of the pushing strength we use in acroyoga.
Contact Improvisation is a natural partner practice to acroyoga because it combines the mindfulness and connectedness of acroyoga with a freer and less structured vocabulary.
Escape Rooms - problem solving, team work, some physical activity, and communication... sound familiar?
Tree climbing parks and Zip-line routes. (see photos below from our group's recent trip!)
Swing dancing - if you love the feeling of being graceful and powerful in acro poses, but have never tried moving to music, it is a whole new (and extremely fun and social) challenge.
Scandinavians really have some things right... winter is a yin time of moving inward, a kaphic season of grounding, and while we still train and play, a lot of flying can be over-stimulating. Take a cue from the Nordic communities and use this time for some quiet, candle-lit, soft-spoken, G&T-fuelled connection. Plan a post-practice get-together at a cafe or home near the practice. Just make sure the wine comes out AFTER flying in finished.
CELEBRATE LIFE TOGETHER Birthdays, graduations, and new babies are times our community comes together. We have a lot of young people, so we also celebrate the end of exams and mourn the end of summer with cake and, of course, acro!
There may be people in your community who are far from home, so an invitation to spend a holiday together can be so appreciated! Haunted Jams in autumn and Jingle Jams in winter are a good way to include lots of people. But of course, the whole point is that not everything has to include acro. Just an invitation join your family for dinner works, too.
How do YOU build community?
Does your acro group have other tactics for recruiting and maintaining a strong, vibrant, and inclusive community of practitioners? If so, share your comments with us below. Our next few posts will go into more details about some of the ideas above. If you have thoughts to contribute, let us know!